Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Thanksgivings in the past are so much fun to remember! I had 2 families that celebrated the holiday with family meals and fun with cousins!

Let's take a trip to the Aunties first.....Donegal Springs Road, Mount Joy, Pa..... a beautiful brick house with a wide front porch.....but the best part of getting there was to see who else was there. Of course as you entered the front room you got hugs and kisses from Aunt Fannie, Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Emily.....I remember the smells as you got inside.....Maybe Uncle Ben's were there and of course that meant Don, Joyce and Ken.....or Uncle Luke's....Jay Leon and Don would be there....Herb's, Edward's, Wilbur's, Uncle Amos and Aunt Mabel, and maybe Elizabeth and cousins from Virginia....what fun we had! I remember oysters, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, vegetables, relish trays and more.....that the wonderful pies, cake, cookies and that great ice cream.....as kids we would take a bowl and mix it good and eat it with pretzel sticks.....now that was fun! The adults would talk and we kids would play. Than we would eat again.

Now we go to Grandma Shearer's. I only really remember the meals after grandpa died. She would stretch that table so we would all fit there....Her turkey was perfection! So golden brown. Her dressing the best with saffron threads and the grave was the greatest! Uncle Bobby's lived down the lane so you knew they would be there....Jean and RD were precious to me and what fun we had in that basement....toys, shuffle board and games....Now if it were really special the cousins were there from Florida.....Uncle Harold's....Mary Lynn, Gave and Beth~ Grandma made the best opera fudge and what a treat! Do you know my grandma's favorite part of the turkey was the neck....to each his own!

Than I had my family and I remember each Thanksgiving.....some were with us alone but many with the Kemp/Blocker Family and talk about fun! They were are extended family since we lived away from our Pa. family. They took us in and filled the void we had for missing our family and cousins...we did go home to Pa. the my grandma's and to the Engle Family. Each gave my kids a feeling of family, love and tradition. Than came John and his family....how Nana loved to serve holiday meals in style. We miss her too and John's 2 sisters.

Thanksgiving to me is the best holiday.....I love fall and love family and the traditions. We each need to stop and hold those we love very close to us. We need to build our family traditions and above all we need to stop and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for all his love and all His grace. We need to be thankful for Salvation and a roof over our heads.....for the food we have and the comforts we take for granted.Life can throw us curves but we must take this time to count our blessings~

John and I find ourselves alone today and yes, mom is here but bitter and she chooses to stay in her room. I have cooked a turkey that was a gift and as we speak the dressing (with saffron), vegetables are roasting, sweet potatoes browning, and cranberry sauce ready. We received a pecan pie and that is our special treat!

John is struggling today with his chiari and sprinx......he has a awful headache and has had to lay down a lot.....but I am thankful I have him! We have each other and that is a great gift! We face each day hoping for a treatment that will help and researching all we can. When you are without a job and insurance few want to see you. I know the answer will come.

I have the blessing of homeschooling 2 boys to bring on some income and what a blessing! Yes, it stretches me but it is income.....They have adopted us and I love that!

That brings me to last Sat. night.....the boys family invited us to their family Thanksgiving and I made mom go.....What a loving group of Mennonite people....just like the Aunties and grandma's and we were guests of honor with all the love we needed! This was the first social time we had since we came to Virginia. Do you know what that meant to us? One of the Son in Laws was the cook at VMRC when Mom and dad lived there. Fred was good for her. The only sad thing was she forgot what dad had when he had polio and dimly seemed to remember the hospital stay. She did not think he was in the hospital 5 weeks. She does not want to go out again but she may just have too. I saw how much I missed fellowship.

Mom came out and ate with just a bit ago because I refused to take her a tray. She went back quickly and had little to say. She would not allow me to remind her of the things I mentioned here....she said that is all dead to her now....if only she could enjoy the life she has. She told us she seldom has enjoyed gatherings....I long for them! How I miss daddy!

Here are a few prayer requests....
1. Wisdom to know how to handle mom with John getting worse.
2. That disability will come through.
3. That I am able to stretch the Food Stamps as that is our only food money to use.
4. That we may find help for John....someone has to be able to help.
5. We can some how make the rent this month.
6. That I can deal with the pain I feel from being away from my kids. I need that support.

I awoke with this some on my mind today....maybe you can sing it with me....I remember Aunt Emily singing this.
HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
Annie J. Flint
~~~
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace.
~~~
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
~~~
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
~~~~
Yes, He gives and He gives and gives again! That makes life worth living!Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

GRATITUDE JOURNAL




I am thankful for birds singing.
Beautiful green trees…
Lily of the valley with their sweet fragrance.
Laughter


**************************
We have all been told that laughter is the best medicine and I firmly believe it is. I laugh a lot….out loud at things on TV, a child having a good time, Sparky (our Jack Russell) playing or begging his dad for another walk, my husbands humor and birds and squirrels fussing over food. Yesterday a crow and squirrel were fighting over a peanut in a shell and the squirrel won.



John and I use humor when things are tough and they have been tough. I feel the day we stop laughing is the day we are beat! I laugh at myself when I spill something or when I make a mistake in stitching….why cry over split milk…..or get mad or call yourself bad names? Laugh instead and get on with the job.



Yesterday when I tucked mom into bed she asked why she hears John and I laugh so much. It made me pause and so I asked her if it bothered her….yes, she said it did bother her because she see little in life that makes her laugh. I said “Mom, dad loved to laugh”. She agreed he did but it always bothered her and she would tell him in private he laughed too much…..you guessed it, I laughed.



I thought about this last night and this morning…..mom has always been up tight and quick to count her losses and never her blessing…..always having a fear of what others will say…..if you really think about that you can see those negative things will keep laughter and joy from your life. Mom really has never been able to be flexible and laughter sure could have helped her.
Do you remember the Bible verse that tells us there is a season for everything….a time to weep and a time to cry….Or read in Luke 6:21 these words….”"Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh".



Since dad’s death and mom having dementia I have learned that sorrow or weeping is a process. I had to learn to climb out of the valley so I could laugh again. It was a choice I made. I held on to Jesus and the times come for laughter. It is something you can’t always force but you sure can hang on to the promise that He is there and after the weeping you will laugh again! Basically I see a cycle here…..we shall weep and we shall laugh….life is never a bowl of cherries all the time.



That takes me to joy…..there sure is a difference between happiness and laughter and joy.
The Biblical Greek term from Paul's spiritual 'orchard' in Galatians is chara: joy, cheer, gladness, or celebration. Joy runs deeper than mere pleasure; especially in a spiritual context, it runs deep into the the core of us, and radiates throughout. It is the response of something deep in the soul to someone (such as God, or a loved one) or something (such as liberation) supremely, even overpoweringly, wonderful. Philippians 4:4 says "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say "rejoice!". Joy should remain constant. Joy from the Lord dwelling continually in our hearts is not turned off and on due to our circumstances, or due to meetings where we get hyped up, or not. Joy can be enduring. Seek after this real kind of joy.


Aunt Emily taught us this…..
J-Jesus First
O-Others next
Y-Yourself last.
Today I am thankful for laughter and I know that the JOY of the Lord is my strength!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

GRATITUDE JOURNAL


I am thankful for:


A beautiful and sunny day....

The beginning of a new craft room.....

My family....

God's Grace


**********************

We have had rain for so many days it seems and to awake this morning and see the beautiful clear skies and the mountain range in the distance began my day praising the Lord for all He has created for you and me to enjoy. How I love nature but I am also reminded I am to care for nature. That is a awesome assignment for each of us. So what will you do today to help the environment?


We have 2 huge bed rooms upstairs and of course one is ours and the other is a guest/craft/ family room. On the back side is one built in desk and that is for my card making.....than John found a great old desk for the large wall for my sewing with a wonderful workspace. He will be putting shelves over that for my felts etc.....I am excited. Than there is room for our TV, a sofa bed and 2 smaller recliners, a coffee table, bookshelf etc and it is not a bit crowded.....so come on and see us!


My family keeps me going....I think the kids have no idea how much it means to have a quick call or to listen to me in the middle of loss and pain. Mom is indeed going down hill mentally. We have been telling her for 2 weeks she will come home on April 4Th. Today I called to check and she had packed to come home tomorrow. Of course I had to tell her no and did she ever throw a fit! Things were flying and she was crying.....John could hear it all and I was trying to tell her that was a short time if she looks at the amount of time she has been in hospitals and rehab. That made her madder.....what a mess. Than I reminded her we are taking her out tonight. That calmed her a bit......John saw the pain and it scared him a bit......but he is here and he is steadfast in doing this for mom.....we did it for his mom.


My extended family helps too with calls and love and for that I am grateful.....


Grace....what is grace mean to you?

It may mean beauty and charm.....as a graceful lady.

It may mean something you say at the table.....a prayer.

It may mean respect and honor....like your grandmother "graces" your table.

Or it may mean a time period of someone showing you mercy.


These all make me think and I can call up a memory for each statement I wrote. I know graceful people....my Aunt Miriam comes to my mind or Aunt Emily....

We always said Grace at the table....sometimes it was a song we song together...I remember that at the Aunties for holidays....

I so wish my dad could "grace" our table again. I needed him this week and would you believe for the first time since we are here I drove out and talked with him....standing in the rain and yet I felt some comfort.

I have needed mercy this last year....over and over again. John losing his job and a huge move, dad dying, mom falling and another move and still no work. At times I am so overwhelmed and simply want to stay in bed. I have only missed 2 days in my daily visits to mom and that has been a chore. Remember I am a homebody! I have developed a way to help.....it is a 20 minute drive between the 2 mountain ranges and I praise God for things along the way and pray for friends and family as I drive....I have simply quoted scripture as I drive. I do all of this aloud and it is a real time of worship for me.


But I have missed swap guidelines, forgot to call or send things I promised, come home and tell John I just cannot cook....and for most I have had people understand. Since I am a person that does what they say I have conflict within myself for not being able to be all things to all I love. last week I was reminded of my forgetfulness and I cried most of the day....this is not like me but I saw I had two options.....go and get meds so I can do all or simply accept I cannot. It was a struggle for me. I have not been kind to myself at all.


That I read an article about God's Grace......The Author said there is nothing common about

God's grace. and I am going to quote him and will give the link at the end of the quote:

" was recently having dinner with a friend of mine in Nashville: author and speaker, Jerry Bridges. He is one of the most profound Bible teachers of our day and his books reflect his deep love for the Lord and His Word. When we were discussing this issue of grace, he gave me a tremendous illustration to communicate the difference between providential benevolence and God's grace.He said,
A hungry hobo comes to your door asking for a meal. You give it to him freely, without him doing anything to earn it. This would be considered ‘kindness’, not ‘grace’.

Biblical correct definitions of grace would be: 
1. Grace - ‘God’s favor through Christ to those who deserve His disfavor.’ 
 This version is designed to compare/contrast the historically accepted inadequate definition of grace above.

 Or 2. Grace - ‘God’s blessings through Christ to those who deserve His curse.’ 

 This is the better of the two definitions.

To illustrate this Jerry went on in using his example of the hobo. He continued by saying,
The hobo robs you after eating your free meal. He then returns one month later. Instead of calling the police, you give him another meal.

Key components of the definition:
 1. Christ is the only basis for both our redemption from the curse and our attaining any of God’s blessings. 

2. We have assaulted the holiness of God, but yet have been His grace. Back to our hobo, this takes us from seeing ourselves as the hungry hobo to seeing ourselves as the robber.

IOW, grace is ‘God in action.’ Grace is not just a benevolent attitude on God’s part to all people. Grace is always ‘God in action’ for our good and for His glory. 
 Again, 
every time the Bible mentions ‘grace’ it is always associated with ‘God in action.’ He is: saving us, justifying us, empowering us, sustaining us, equipping us, etc. ‘by grace.’

....



I encourage you to read all the article....I am still doing my journal on this part......

I like the "God in Action" part.....that excites me and fills me with hope. I have taken from this one thing.....I want to be a woman of action for the Lord. It gives me lots of ideas but the most important part is that I read His Word daily and pray and listen to Hid voice to tell me what action I need to take.....that will be the challenge for me.....


How will God's grace move you to action this week?

Share your ideas.....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

WE ARE HOME

This is the home we are renting in Massanutten, Virginia. We are about 9 miles out of Harrisonburg, Va. The community is a resort and I simply love it here. The trip to town is through such beautiful farms and on each side at beautiful mountains. The daffodils are blooming and some Red Trees are blooming. I sure missed Spring Flowers!

This is a picture taken from our bedroom window. We are on the second floor so mom can have the bedroom on the main floor.


A look into our living area and Sparky too...

We are here because mom needed us to move here since her fall. It is a bittersweet time for me. Mom also has some dementia so each day we have is precious. I have lost dad just this year and I am not ready to have her gone too.


She was only home one night since she shattered her hip on New Years Eve. She developed problems and was back in the hospital and now rehab again. Say a prayer for her.


I think I need to share with all of you how I feel about caring for our parents. I guess the old ways the Mennonites did things still has value to me. One of them is caring for our parents in our homes. This does not work for many but I want to do this. I learned the value of it when we kept John's mom who also had dementia. We also had his Uncle at that time who was dying from COPD and Uncle Joe taught me more about cooking (he was a chef all his life) and accepting life as it comes. Nana taught me that life is full of beauty....she loved anything beautiful. When she no longer knew me I saw how caring for her was a gift to my husband. This precious woman gave birth to the man I dearly love and the best gift I could give her and John was for me to serve her in love. I have never regretted it. It sure was a tough time.....no sleep....hospital trips over and over...anger....but on the other side of the coin John and I became closer.....John's humor and music got us through along with the prayers of friends and family. It was stressful.....By the way here is a quote for you on stress by Carol Luebering:


"Stress, when properly regulated and channeled, is one of life's most positive energies."


Think about that...we so often want life to be a bowl of cherries....why? We sure do not grow during the easy times...in fact we so often get lazy with our prayers and even reading our Bibles...and so often just care for our own families. It is during the stressful times that we see the suffering of others and we reach out and learn life is for sharing all we have with those that need it more. We also gain strength in what we believe and understand the meaning of prayer. Fore refines us and we come out stronger and richer for it.


John has been busy getting moms room ready for her and her bathroom too. Now he is painting the dinning room and kitchen. He enjoys the detail work. While I run to see mom each day he works here. We try to take Sparky to see mom 2 nights a week. That makes her happy.


As soon as she is home and seems more stable he will be really looking for work. I know this is an awful time for finding employment but feel the right job will open up when it is time. I also feel God will honor him for all he has to give up to have mom here. But he is loving and supportive and wants to do for my mom what I did for his......how sweet!


Hold your parents tight if you have them......treasure their clear minds and also love and care for them when they are weak and need you. Make memories with them....visit them whenever you can...even if it means sacrifice......They are precious gifts to us.




Sunday, January 25, 2009

I AM THANFUL FOR...

I am thankful for:Life
My second hot cup of coffee.
Friends and family
My Anabaptist heritage.
************************
Several things have happened to me since dad’s death that have been exciting and in a sense I have been on a treasure hunt so to speak. Reading dad’s notes he saved when he gave talks at Mennonite Churches over the years really started this. I saw my dad stayed true to his Anabaptist beliefs but was also progressive at times. I decided it was time to really search the net for articles and chat with people about the Mennonites and Amish. I have been out of the Mennonite Community for well over 40 years. I love history and so decided to dig in so to speak. I will not get deep in this all but I will say I found out that my childhood and teens years did shape in me a strong core of beliefs.

I learned so much from my 3 Aunties as we called them, Fannie, Elizabeth and Emily.They raised my dad and his brother. Going to their home was the same as going to Grandma’s house. They loved God above all and taught me to love my church. From Aunt Emily I learned not to judge people.

Dad was a great example of both servant hood to all people and a great example that a daily walk with God meant time spent in the Bible first and the words of any author second. He would read a book and take out truths when they lined up with God’s Word.He knew the Word and so he was never a man that neither was confused nor wish washy. He lived a balanced life. We worked with folks in Harrisburg, Pa. in Hamilton Street Mennonite Church, he worked MDS, and he shared what we had with those with less.After my marriage he and mom went to Honduras and he treasured each minute of that service to the Mennonite Church. He than came back to the states and gave years to Lakewood Retreat…a Mennonite camp above Tampa. He believed in family camping as well as kids going to camp. He also has been active in Camp Hebron in Pa.

All involved taught me that peacemaking is a key to life…. we must ”live peaceable with all men”. My world has always been global for missionaries that served and came home for a time were always welcome at our house. I loved to hear them share! My grandma Shearer had a love for missionaries and read many a book to me about them. She sewed for the Children of missionaries and wrote letters to them. As a child I was a part of this process and I loved it. We rolled bandages for the lepers in Africa, made MCC bundles for various areas. This to me was so exciting!

Now here in Virginia I have found a treasure trove of history of the Anabaptists. There is a bookstore here called “Book Savers”. The books are cheap and I have found a treasure trove! I loved Christmas Carol Kauffman as a child and went to see if any were there. The only one was one I have never read called, “Dannie of Cedar Cliffs.”. It is the story of Dannie Roth and wow….am I learning! I am reading “Readings from Mennonite Writings New and Old” By J. Craig Haas. I think one written in 1524 is the oldest I have read so far. (Conrad Grebel). It is designed to read one a day for the year but I am reading and researching much more than that. (Bt the way it cost me 1.00)

I have read the story called “Honey Bread and Milk” by Joyce Gingerich “This account of Amos Gingerich and Nannie Yoder Gingerich gives an intimate glimpse into the lives of a family that followed God call during the rapid change in Mennonite and Amish communities.”—Franklin L. Yoder,Adjunct Professor of History, University of Iowa.

On my stack is one called “Stories our Mothers Told” by Herb Swartz. It says it is about the “son on a immigrant mother, and the daughter of a missionary mother….I have the book called “Tobias of the Amish” by Ervin R. Stutzman.

I just finished “Quiet Shouts” By Louise Stoltzfus. “Stories of Lancaster Mennonite Women Leaders” I love that I knew 3 in the book. I read “ Eyes at the Window” By Evie Yoder Miller. It is based on fact but is a novel. The history in it was great and I looked a lot up.

I read “Valley of my Heart, A devastating war, a peaceful people and one family’s quest for truth” The notes and the Bibliography are a roadmap of books I am looking for.

I will close for now but I feel I am on a journey and I really am excited about this. I may be 60 but I love to learn and see I am drawn back to my roots!
God is good

Friday, January 9, 2009

Update

You all will see what is happening to myself, John and mom if you look here:
http://donnag-takingcareofmother.blogspot.com/

Please add any suggestions you have on helping us know what to do.

Love,
Donna G